AMA: I hate my Banking job. Most likely transferring to Back office.

Hello everyone. I'm an investment banking analyst and I.. hate my job to put it lightly. I'm also terrible at it, which is mostly due to how much I hate it (I was a top 2 analyst until I just started hating everything). No, I'm not throwing myself a pity party.

I'm interviewing for back office roles at a credit card arm at my BB that's more focused on strategy and implementing AI. I'm pretty excited. AMA, I guess? I've never seen somebody do the reverse in this group.

Comments (129)

Jul 11, 2018

Did you go to H/Y/P/W/S?

Jul 11, 2018

I didn't! I wasn't really interested in going ivy for undergrad. I attended a pretty specific type of school, and I could easily give my identity away if I revealed it. I will say that it was in New England and was a top 40 liberal arts college. I've never regretted that choice since it was a perfect fit for me :)

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Jul 11, 2018

I actually wrote a post about this called the Zero Stress Life, and I'm basically in the same shoes as you. Non-target (I'm an accounting major though trying to go Big 4 or something stable, yet manageable) and I'm looking for something that may pay less, but that I won't hate. So I'm in the same boat as you 100% bro.

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Jul 11, 2018

Curious. Are you worried about the pay decrease? What are the compensations/differences like?
Great that you identified you hated it so early. Nothing like hating coming to work in the morning. What are you exit plans/career plans now? Consulting or strategy at a f100 I presume?

Most Helpful
Jul 11, 2018

I think I might take a major paycut, but I'm not certain. The role I'll be moving to is extremely new and it's focused on building up our AI capabilities more than anything else. I'm lucky to be debt free so I'm not worried about the paycut. I'm a bit of a boring person I'm afraid--I like cooking at home, going to happy hour with friends, and reading policy briefs--so I don't think a paycut will cut into my lifestyle too much.

I wish I had identified it sooner, honestly. The prestige of banking will get to you. I was the first sophomore from my college in years to get an investment banking internship, and the "prestige" and "oohs, aaaahs" I got really overrode my instincts screaming at me that this was not the job for me. It's dumb, but hell, I was young and I believe everything happens for a reason. I made some amazing contacts and mentors, and it was actually one of the mentors I made who advised me that if I hated what I was doing I should seek other opportunities at the firm.

I'm not sure yet. My friend's uncle offered me an interview at a private equity shop, but at this point I know I don't want to take it. I think I might look at consulting or strategy options, most likely focused on tech, or I might exit to Washington, D.C. as a policy advisor. I know some people down in DC that are really interested in somebody with some Wall Street and tech experience (and I have both).

I know that what I will find most fulfilling is the ability to have a career where I can make an impact on people's lives (impact investing, maybe policy advisor, etc) while at the same time being able to pay the mortgage on time. The drive to have something like that has carried me through high school, college, and now this job. I'm still figuring it out. Maybe I'll create something totally new and found my own firm. I'm leaving myself open to any and all options :)

Knowing myself, I think the "lucrative small business/crazy startup" lifestyle suits me best, while continuing to work on campaigns. I'd love to have a small business with my sister, exit into a White House policy team (Senior Analyst, etc.) and then either go back to my business or continue working in DC for a couple different Senators while pursuing different ventures on the side at incubators.

But again, I thought I'd be working my way towards a PE gig and clearly that's not the case, so maybe it's prudent for me to tell you to check in with me in 5 years for what could possibly be a totally different plan!

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Jul 11, 2018

Sounds like you've really thought this stuff out. Very cool, go after your something you're interested in then. At the end of the day prestige and money only matter if you want it to matter, as long as the bills are paid and you've got food on the table then the rest is always up to you. Go trail your own path, it's your life and it should be set to be as fulfilling as you can make it for yourself, however that might be.

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Jul 13, 2018

Great post! I think you've got your head in the right place.

Just a piece of advice on D.C....just because you're interested in policy doesn't mean that D.C. is the right place for you. Basically, your job for the first 20 years or more in D.C. (if you last that long) will be implementing someone else's policies, often times ones you don't agree with.

In some sense, it's almost better to have no interest in policies and to just be power hungry - that's the type of person that thrives best in D.C. People who are actually interested in policy realize that its all bullshit after a few years and leave.

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Jul 11, 2018

I have massive respect for someone with the stones to post a "IB to Back Office: AMA" thread. But life's too short to wake up every morning hating your job.

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Jul 11, 2018

Thank you! Yeah.. I wake up every morning dreading walking into work. The happiest part of my day is walking out of the office, and my vacation was borderline euphoria. I gained weight from the stress alone.

Totally not worth it.

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Funniest
Jul 11, 2018

This'll be a nice contrast from the usual: "I grew up in a sewer and went to a non-target in Syria, now I'm in IB" posts.

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Jul 11, 2018

Post history indicates you initially wanted to transfer out of capital markets to a coverage group. Why'd you give up on that idea?

Jul 11, 2018

It's still a consideration, but I realized that to effectively transfer I'd have to learn how to model. I bought a PC (I only had Mac before) and the idea of opening it to create a DCF was painful. I just realized that banking isn't what I want to do, and why do more of something I.. don't want to do? I'll create my own path. The most successful people I've met created their own opportunities so that's what I'm trying to do now.

Jul 12, 2018

Have to give you kudos (not giving you my bananas) for this thread. An original.

MSFS Incoming Intern

Jul 11, 2018

All kudos and bananas welcome :) Thank you! Back office gets no love haha

Jul 12, 2018

Will comment/PM later.

Jul 11, 2018

:)

Jul 12, 2018

Just curious, why not go for Corp Dev at a firm like Google of Facebook? A lot less hours, great pay and I assume it's more interesting than back office.

Jul 11, 2018

Hey FutureProspects! A couple different reasons:

  1. Normally, corp dev teams look for people with coverage experience, and while I'm a smart cookie and could probably teach myself modeling, I didn't think facing an uphill battle for a job at Facebook or Google was very appealing.
  2. A lot of the plush strategy/corp dev jobs overwhelmingly go to MBAs. I'm not sure if I even want an MBA--massive money suck with little payoff--and I want to be in an intellectually stimulating role right now. There's actually a running joke among my friends at Google/Facebook about these super brilliant people in really dumb roles but they stick around because of the perks.
  3. I want to be in a place where I have strong relationships with people. I've been at my current firm for a long time now. Some of these guys have known me since I was 19 years old when I first started recruiting hardcore, and I'm very close to being 24 now. That's huge. This team is super pro-investing in juniors and most of these guys are ex-consultants or bankers, and that's super appealing to me. I know there are folks on the team that will go to bat for me if I do well.
  4. I've been told that some of the top ways to gain the best experience is either a.) inherit a mess or b.) build something. I've built a company from the ground up (literally over cup ramen) so I'm so incredibly stoked to do this again. Building out our AI platform in a small team with a relatively flat structure will allow me to pick up new skills, create relationships across the firm, and grow fast. It will also let me explore how serious I am about technology and especially AI. It also gives me a front row seat to the future of lending in the world and the role technology will inevitably play--both things I'm very interested in, particularly how they impact minority and poor communities.
  5. Guys, I'll get to cook dinner at home!! At. Home. AND spend time with my super neglected boyfriend! I'm willing to work very, very hard, but I'll do it my way in what I'm interested in doing. Not slaving away at a role I despise.
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Jul 12, 2018

What happened to the first company you built over your cup of ramen?

Jul 12, 2018
LateralMonkey:
  1. A lot of the plush strategy/corp dev jobs overwhelmingly go to MBAs. I'm not sure if I even want an MBA--massive money suck with little payoff--and I want to be in an intellectually stimulating role right now. There's actually a running joke among my friends at Google/Facebook about these super brilliant people in really dumb roles but they stick around because of the perks.

"I used to joke with my colleagues that Larry & Sergey [founders of Google] go out on their yachts - tie them together ... smoke cigars, and put up pictures of[Google employees] with little snippets like "was a GM at multi-national telecomm company, got a Harvard MBA and is now answering Orkut tickets [Complaints for one of Google's social networking sites]." And then they would erupt in laughter and clink their cigars & Scotch together in celebration. This, of course, is highly unlikely given neither of them would ever smoke a cigar or drink Scotch. Remainder is plausible."

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-advantantages-a...

Jul 12, 2018

Wow this was a super thorough response. Awesome stuff and I wish you the best of luck!

Jul 12, 2018

Along the lines of what FutureProspects said, why back office?

After interning a summer in IB, I absolutely hated it and had zero interest in going back. Ended up in a rotational FLDP at a F50 and it's been terrific: great pay, lots of vacation time, 45-50 hours a week, great culture, and the work is very interesting.

Jul 11, 2018

See above for my response to FutureProspects! I'm glad you found a role that suits you! :)

Jul 12, 2018

Check out some of the companies listed under capital markets & trading. A few are involved in AI.

https://cbi-blog.s3.amazonaws.com/blog/wp-content/...

Jul 11, 2018

I'll check it out! Maybe that's in my future! :) Thank you!

Jul 13, 2018

Think this sort of thing will become more and more common.

Millenials value different things to baby boomers. Working your life away for prestige and material things is not that appealing to a lot of millenials (and the rewards are not there to the extent they once were).

The alternative is a 9-5 which gives you time to focus on passions/side hustles in your free time and still pays enough to travel, eat good food etc..

Jul 11, 2018

Also, while banking is an amazing field to be in, it's just simply not practical if you're looking to grow your career in other areas. I know people that have been small time credit analysts and done some major fundraising for top Democratic/Republican candidates and exited into amazing gigs via those connections. I know folks pulling in 9-5s and doing some mean side hustles that are generating serious revenue (one of which just quit and is now pulling in $1mm+ a year while doing what he loves).

In today's world, if you hate what you are doing, you're going to suck at it and not do very well. Period. I will never regret going into banking because I think it happened for a reason (even if my nightly seamless orders make me question what the hell that reason was....) but I'm definitely ready to move on to something else.

Jul 13, 2018

would love to hear more about the side hustle

Jul 13, 2018

Oh dear - are we seeing another "Stephen Ridley" (Apr 2012)?
https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/life-after-...
That guy works for 16 months and kept ranting about how IBD is not for him, and after 6 years (Feb 2018), he is back doing the same thing - banking.
https://www.fnlondon.com/articles/junior-banker-tu...

Jul 11, 2018

Not quite. There's definitely a possibility that I'll go into private equity down the road or impact investing, and I've had interview offers in both, but I severely doubt I will ever re-enter banking.

If I do, it will need to be for a very compelling reason and heavily negotiated hours. I sincerely doubt that will happen.

Jul 13, 2018

Want to show you this clip. I think the guy was saying how people try to get away from the track because they wanted to be "different". Most successful people stay on the track by being boring and normal (i.e. Warren Buffett all his life was doing value investing). There are also consequences of staying off the track that people don't usually account for: i) whether they can still get back on the track if at all, ii) if not, the amount of extra work that they have to do just to get back on the track. Do have a few friends who are in the VP level and got off the track to do crazy things; after 2 years out of the industry, all the peers have moved on and there are no more seats for him at the table. High Finance itself is an extreme competitive industry (esp product people - i.e. DCM, LevFinance, M&A) and people usually underestimate how fast they become irrelevant as soon as they leave the industry.

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Jul 15, 2018

Starting a crypto currency fund is not the same as traditional IB...

Jul 13, 2018

Noted. My point is he absolutely hated finance and want nothing to do with it. And he said he love music and want to make a name for himself. Do you see him anywhere else in the mainstream media? No. I guess he wasn't that passionate to become a musician. A job is a job - anything you do is soul crashing and boring - but better do well if you want to make a serious amount of money.

Jul 16, 2018

Wow, I remember that thread from 2012. Ironic, the most famous thing about him is still the fact that he quit IB, that is, the prestige of his Analyst job...

Jul 13, 2018

I am sure 10 years later, he will stay talk about how he quit his investment banking job. Again as an analyst, there is nothing special about. Every year there are so many new analysts coming in. Talk about quitting after you become a director or partner; then that is something worth noting.

Jul 13, 2018

The only thing I'm wondering is, why leave banking for banking operations? If you don't like banking, why not move to ops at a tech company, because then you'd get to work on the 'future of how things work'? Plus, depending on company and size, it could be a lot more interesting and allow you to put your stamp on the industry a lot more than what I think you could do in banking ops.

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Jul 13, 2018

I agree here. Unless you'll be designing the AI technology yourself, at a major bank, the work you're doing may easily be more akin to "Project Management" rather than "Product Management" -- and I'm assuming you're more interested in the latter (gets into managing how the product is designed, what users think, etc., whereas the former is about creating internal teams and doing more internal ops driven stuff)

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Jul 11, 2018

Not as into product management, actually. A close friend of mine is a veteran product manager and I don't think that's quite my path. I'm actually really interested in the operations/strategy portion. The AI component just makes it all the more fascinating and challenging for me.

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Jul 11, 2018

Totally valid critiques. I'm still interested in finance and lending, just not quite investment banking. I think my point on relationships really is important here--I have established ties to the firm and I know there are people here that will go to bat for me.

Jul 13, 2018

I would just be careful as to whether you're actually getting to play a role in real strategy and implementation. But perhaps you're using the term "back office" loosely here.

Is there an innovation strategy team at the bank that works with business units on identifying solutions they can implement via AI, partnerships, or investing (via Corp venture arm)? If you're also interested in private equity (but with fewer hours) or impact investing, and also have interest in tech, those roles might be more aligned.

If it's implementing AI by the bank building something in-house, I would be careful to see what they believe AI to be (depending on how conservative or aggressive the bank is towards investing on innovation). For instance, some may think RPA is AI... or some bank execs may actually be against AI (because they don't want the bad press of cutting cost by cutting obsolete employees, until their peers do, or because they understand the "black box" nature of it). In short, you want to make sure whatever group you join is supported by: a big budget that isn't heavily gated by naysayers, executive buy-in, management team with a lot of clout and autonomy.

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Jul 13, 2018

If you are going into an AI role why not look for Data Science positions? One of the posters above mentioned a stress free life, I can attest data science is stress free. Work from home, $100k salary, challenging work, set my own hours, low cost of living in the PNW.


"I am always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though."
-- J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Jul 11, 2018

I considered it! But I have mad respect for the higher ups of this particular team, and to be honest, I want to work for them. They're just great people to learn from so early in my career.

Jul 16, 2018

Well done on being honest with yourself. That is by the far one of the hardest things to do in an environment which is really stressful and filled competition for days.

I say good on you and keep pursuing what makes you feel good - that is where the greatness is unearthed.

Corp. Fin. Analyst currently working two finance jobs (and a teaching gig and trying to save my music production solo career). I love avocado's. And yes Cape Town is the most beautiful place in the world. Don't believe me, come thru and find out.

Jul 11, 2018

Thank you! Fingers crossed it all goes well!

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Jul 16, 2018

This is pretty interesting, I think banking backoffice has tons of room for automation. I recently quit my position as a trader and set up my own deep learning rig and just learning while working on some side projects. I kind of regret not learning a bit more about back office processes whilst I was with a bank ironically since I'm sure there are lots of opportunities for implementing some of the new tech especially with what ai is capable of doing now. If you have the technical chops for it I guess you can jump to the other side once your familiar with the processes and start servicing the banks. In fact hit me up if you want to chat, I think this is a pretty interesting choice, I'm in Asia though

Jul 16, 2018

I strongly believe that as technology and implementation of AI/analytics becomes more robust in banks, the divide between back office and front office will become less meaningful. What a lot of people don't seem to understand is that there is so much low hanging fruit in terms of using pretty simple technology/analytics (no AI) to vastly improve processes and cut costs. If you find yourself in the right back office group, one that is leading the way in technology/AI/analytics/etc., compensation trajectory will be very, very competitive. Maybe you won't be an MD rainmaker bringing in millions per year but $500k+ is very possible.

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Jul 16, 2018

There is no doubt that robotic process automation is the way of the future for back office processes. We have been pitching our clients hard on this for the last 12 months or so. Like any other technology, and maybe even more so with AI, it will take time for big players in industry to adopt it. I think as others have posted above, AI technologies will not replace all jobs however the skill set required to do the job will drastically change and being on the forefront of having those skills will be beneficial.

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Jul 11, 2018

Are you in back office too?

Jul 11, 2018

You both hit the nail on the head. This role entails completely building out our tech/AI capabilities from the bottom up. We're building out the team, implementing completely new tech, and rehauling the bank. That's crazy exciting. I'm stoked for it.

I'll be honest--I haven't given much thought to my earnings trajectory. I might stay on long enough to be an MD, but I might also exit and do something else. Check back in a few years! :)

Jul 16, 2018

Good for you, happiness is definitely very important.

Curious, what was your average hours in IBD? 85? 90?

Jul 11, 2018

80-100 easily. It's.. not great.

Jul 16, 2018

Hi,

This is my first post - long-time lurker here - but as someone who has been in BO for quite a while (BB accounting), I would caution against doing this.

There is no guarantee you will love the BO job either or that it will be 9 to 5. Mine is 9am to 8/9pm and I think it's ok (I'm trying to get into IBD so hours are not an issue) but just saying it might not be as nice as you think before starting.
Also getting out of BO is not easy, I've been trying for quite a while. Maybe it's different if you have IBD on your CV as well or if you can code well - which from your posts you seem to be able to.

Just my two cents, best of luck with your choice!

Jul 11, 2018

Thanks for the advice! What do you do in back office? I think I should be okay considering my role is very strategy focused and dominated by ex bankers/consultants. I'll probably work a 9 to 6/7, which is a massive improvement honestly.

Jul 11, 2018

You mentioned it already! Accounting! That's good. We'll see where this takes me--I'm pretty excited since it's a more tech-focused role. Half the battle is learning how to sell your experience and I think this will be super solid for me.

Jul 16, 2018

You sound very positive about the move, all the best!

Jul 18, 2018

how do they make you work 9-9 in accounting in a BB?

Jul 17, 2018

You'll probably find it as demanding as LevFin but without the hours and bonus. A good trade off imo.

Potential pivots in to fintech and c-suite down the road (COO/CIO).

Jul 11, 2018

Cannot tell if sarcastic or serious haha

Jul 17, 2018

Lol serious...

Jul 20, 2018

I made the mistake of going into it for the preftige too. Glad to see someone on here with a similar perspective, and I give you mad props for going your own way.

Jul 11, 2018

Thank you!! Are you still in banking?

Jul 20, 2018

Not for long ;)

Jul 20, 2018

Delete

Jul 11, 2018

Good for you! Hope you find something that makes you happier! :)

Jul 20, 2018

Lev fin ain't banking

Jul 11, 2018

lol wat

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Jul 20, 2018

Dude. Just switch banks and fine a more chill group

Jul 21, 2018

Hi

Jul 11, 2018

Hello! :)

Jul 24, 2018
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Jul 26, 2018
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Jul 18, 2018